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Singing and the Imagination of Devotion

Vocal Aesthetics in Early English Protestant Culture
  • By Susan Tara Brown
Using early Anglican and Puritan sources, Singing and the Imagination of Devotion poses questions about the meaning and significance of singing during a seminal period in English culture. While early modern England witnessed many political, cultural and artistic upheavals, it also produced a substantive body of devotional music, ranging in complexity from simple psalm tunes to sophisticated art songs. Controversialists wrangled over the appropriate role of singing in worship at the same time that writers of 'affectionate divinity' gloried in the beauty of Christ and traced the workings of the inner landscape. Period accounts indicate that singing played a vital role in this devotional life, and was specifically cultivated as a means to impress the soul with Christian truths and lead believers to a state of 'heavenly-mindedness'. Singing became viewed as a spiritual balm, kindler of religious passion, and the ultimate embodiment of an innocent and wholesome sensuality. In examining a body of devotional literature which has been neglected by music historians, Brown discerns an aesthetic of singing and vocal expression which has ramifications today. 'This book makes me want to take singing lessons--really. Many contemporary churches are wracked by ""worship wars"" (controversies concerning the complex relation between music and devotion). Here in Susan Brown's book is a history of the early modern relation between these two deep realities that can help us find a way of the discordant sounds of war and into the healing and beautiful sounds of music.' -- Frederick Dale Bruner, Adjunct Professor, School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary. 'While the Christian story was inculcated visually in the Middle Ages, the vernacular proclamation, singing, and reading of Scripture created a radically new soundscape. Drawing together various disciplines for her conclusions in this book, Susan Tara Brown has further undermined the usual contrast of anti-aesthetic Protestantism and an artistically rich Catholicism. Specialists will put this book in their required reading lists and informed lay people will be captivated by the way Brown's narrative opens up this important era.' -- Michael Horton, Professor of Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary, and editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation Magazine 'England's Reformers, Anglican generally and Puritans in particular through the seventeeth century, valued sacred song as a devotional mountaintop. Dr. Brown has written a masterful exploration of the theology, psychology and spirituality which that estimate expressed.' -- James I. Packer, Regent College Susan Tara Brown is a musicologist on the faculty of Fullerton College.

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  • Additional Details
    • SKU: 9781606083147
    • Manufacturer: Wipf & Stock Publ
    • Language of Text: English
    • ISBN 13: 9781606083147
    • Publication Date: 12/01/2008
    • Format: Hardcover
    • Author: Susan Tara Brown
    • Page Count: 150
    • Weight: 0.48 pounds
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